ILLINOIS (WCIA) — For the first time in history, renewable energy has produced more electricity than coal in the U.S. for 40 days straight.
Renewable energy sources are getting a boost during the economic slowdown and the stay at home orders across the country.
In the past few decades, coal production and renewable energy sources have battled in the U.S. power industry. But in the past month, renewables like solar, wind and hydropower have hit a milestone, overtaking coal-fired power in electricity generation.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports April’s renewables acceleration not only comes from low gas prices and more renewables added to the power grid, but also from a massive dip in electricity demand as Americans stay home because of the coronavirus. “Whether that’s because of the growing concerns about air pollution and our climate or whether it’s because the cost has come down so substantially, either way we’re seeing more and more companies that want to purchase more renewable energy,” said Amy Kurt, manager of regional government affairs for EDP Renewables. She said the rising surge lies in economics.
“The cost of wind energy has come down substantially. In fact, over the past decade the cost of wind energy has come down about 70%,” Kurt said. EPD has been growing their wind farms across the country, including in central Illinois. “We’re seeing a much higher demand from companies and utilities that want to purchase more renewables. So fortune 500 companies, retail stores, manufacturers are all looking to add renewable energy to their mix.” As the EIA predicts the trend across the nation to continue, EDP is preparing to meet the demand. Right now, the company is constructing its 90 acre Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Douglas County. That is scheduled to be complete in the next few months.
The longest continuous stretch previously was April 2019, which had nine consecutive days of renewables overtaking coal. In total, renewables beat coal on just 38 days last year.